Connie Britton on standing up for women, 'Nashville' and her brand-new mission

Connie Britton has been a fierce advocate for women throughout her career. The "Nashville" actress, who has been a supporter of Planned Parenthood for years and most recently walked in the Women's March in Park City during the Sundance Film Festival, is making it her mission to spread a new kind of awareness this month.

Britton wants women around the world to recognize the urgent importance of heart health, which is the No. 1 health risk for women.

SEE ALSO: Kathryn Hahn talks 'Bad Moms' sequel: 'You're going to get to meet our moms!'

The former "Friday Night Lights" star is partnering with Quaker to spread the message and to urge women to take care of themselves -- something that doesn't always come naturally to all women, she admits.

I sat down with Connie Britton last week to talk about her mission to combat heart disease in women during American Heart Month, this season of "Nashville" and the "strange moment" that came with its switch from ABC to CMT.

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Connie Britton out and about
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Connie Britton is a guest on 'Good Morning America,' Tuesday, February 7, 2017, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC vis Getty Images) CONNIE BRITTON, GINGER ZEE
Actress Connie Britton attends 'Beatriz at Dinner' Premiere at Eccles Center Theatre during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, January 23, 2017. / AFP / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: Actress Connie Britton attends AT&T At The Lift during the 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for AT&T)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 23: (Front L-R) Actors Amy Landecker, Connie Britton, John Lithgow, Salma Hayek, and director Miguel Areta of 'Cast Change' and (Top) Keving Smith attend The IMDb Studio featuring the Filmmaker Discovery Lounge, presented by Amazon Video Direct: Day Four during The 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: Actress Connie Britton attends The IMDb Studio featuring the Filmmaker Discovery Lounge, presented by Amazon Video Direct: Day Two during The 2017 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for IMDb)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: 74th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: Actress Connie Britton arrives to the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05: UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Connie Britton attends the 2016 United Nations Development Programme Global Goals Gala at Phillips on December 5, 2016 in New York (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 07: Actress Connie Britton arrives at the 6th Annual Sean Penn & Friends HAITI RISING Gala Benefiting J/P Haitian Relief Organization at Montage Beverly Hills on January 7, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: (L-R) Director David O. Russell, actors Kuoth Wiel, Allison Williams and Connie Britton arrive at the screening Of David O. Russell's 'Past Forward' hosted by Prada at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel on November 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 15: Actress Connie Britton attends Prada Presents 'Past Forward' by David O. Russell premiere at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel on November 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Connie Britton arrives for the 68th Emmy Awards on September 18, 2016 at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Actress Connie Britton attends the Vanity and FX Annual Primetime Emmy Nominations Party at Craft Restaurant on September 17, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Actress Connie Britton speaks at The United State of Women Reception hosted by Civic Nation at Hay-Adams Hotel on June 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: (L-R) Actress Sarah Paulson, writer/director/producer Ryan Murphy and Connie Britton at Vanity Fair And FX's Annual Primetime Emmy Nominations Party on September 17, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Actress Connie Britton attends The United State of Women Reception hosted by Civic Nation at Hay-Adams Hotel on June 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Saycon Sengbloh, Connie Britton, Sophia Bush and Jersey Banks attend Broadway's 'Eclipsed' at Golden Theatre on May 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Connie Britton and Lupita Nyong'o backstage at Broadway's 'Eclipsed' at Golden Theatre on May 17, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jenny Anderson/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 370 -- Pictured: Actress Connie Britton during an interview on May 16, 2016 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Connie Britton arrives for the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Waldorf=Astoria on May 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Actress Laverne Cox (L) and Actress Connie Britton pose backstage at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York on May 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Actress Connie Britton attends the 102nd White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on April 30, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/FilmMagic)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Actress Connie Britton attends The New Yorker's annual party kicking off The White House Correspondents' Association Dinner Weekend hosted by David Remnick at W Hotel Rooftop on April 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The New Yorker)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: VP & Chief Privacy Officer, Policy at Facebook, Erin Egan and actress Connie Britton attend the Glamour and Facebook brunch to discuss sexism in 2016, during WHCD Weekend at Kinship on April 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Glamour)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15: Actress Connie Britton attends the 'Wolves' after party during 2016 Tribeca Film Festival at No. 8 on April 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for 2016 Tribeca Film Festival)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04: Actress Connie Britton attends the For Your Consideration event for FX's 'The People v. O.J. Simpson - American Crime Story' at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on April 4, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE - 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' airs every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. EST and features a diverse lineup of guests that include celebrities, athletes, musical acts, comedians and human interest subjects, along with comedy bits and a house band. The guests for Wednesday, March 9 included Louis C.K., Connie Britton ('Nashville') and musical guest The Wild Feathers. (Photo by Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images) JIMMY KIMMEL, CONNIE BRITTON
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Check out my full conversation with Connie Britton below:

Talk to me about this initiative with Quaker to spread awareness about heart health. I feel as though the general public knows that heart health is generally a serious problem, but isn't aware of the specifics.

I think what the general public may be less aware of is the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 health risk for women in the country, and I just think that is a staggering statistic. That is not known! That's why when Quaker came to me to ask if I would help get the word out about this, I was stunned -- especially as a woman.

There really are some crazy statistics around heart disease in women.

Yeah, and that was not something I ever thought I would ever have to worry about! So, as an advocate for women, it felt to me like a really important conversation to get out there and start talking about. Also, when I first heard this statistic I thought, "Oh, my God! My heart!" That was the other thing: I have subsequently discovered that you can get a very simple screening that will give you a lot of information about how your heart is doing and how you can be preventative in terms of getting into a risk situation.

Have you done the test? Was it easy?

Super simple! You can do it as part of a physical. Women, in particular, notoriously take care of everybody else and don't take care of themselves, so I also really want to encourage women to take the time that you need so that you can do this really simple screening. It's straightforward, and you get a lot of information. It's incredibly important to take time for yourself, and I think we lose sight of that.

And, as you said, you're a particularly huge advocate for women and women's rights. It seems as though this partnership fits right into that.

It really does. I just want women to talk to each other about this issue, and I think the more we talk to each other about it, the more we can support each other in valuing ourselves and doing the things that we need to make ourselves healthier. Doing that, we can be so much more effective to our families and workplace and all of the things that are important to us. It's really a win-win. Let's make heart health sexy!

What are some other things that women can do every day to help combat health heart issues?

Well, obviously eating right and exercise are really, really important and effective and preventative. Quaker has been involved with heart health for years and years and years, and part of that is because oatmeal is actually really good for your heart! As women -- and particularly as moms, because I'm a fairly new mom -- one of the first things I noticed when I was a new mom was that I stopped taking care of myself completely. I'm just focused on making sure he's good, and a lot of times I end up eating whatever he's eating, and I quickly learned -- because I've always loved oatmeal -- that he loved it, too! It was like, "Bingo!" We can both have a great start to the day together.

I'm a huge "Nashville" fan, and it's been really awesome to watch the show evolve over the years -- it's changed a lot! -- but it was also good to see that it remained more or less the same show when it made the switch from ABC to CMT before this season. Have you noticed any changes?

On the day-to-day level, not so much. At this point we're in season five, so it's a well-oiled machine. One thing we've found with CMT is that they're really passionate and enthusiastic about the show, and you can really feel that. It kind of breathes new energy into what we're doing. We also have new wonderful showrunners who have been great to work with, so that has also put everybody in a good place, too. But, yeah, "Nashville" is still "Nashville!"

What has the reception from fans been like since the move happened?

People seem to be really be loving the show this season. You know, look: We are only on the air at this point because of our fans. We have the most amazing fans in the world, and that is just so gratifying. For us, we especially now feel like we want to serve them, and so far the feedback has indicated that they're really happy with that.

After news broke that CMT was picking the show up, there was also this weird skepticism around whether or not you would be coming back. What did you make of that?

It was very weird for me, too. That was a strange moment, and there is still all kinds of chatter. I'm like, "Yeah, y'all just keep talking..."

I recently interviewed Joseph David-Jones, who plays Clay on this season of "Nashville." He plays Maddie's love interest, and it's really the first time that the show is tackling race head-on. As her on-screen mother, what do you think of this storyline?

I think it's great! It's funny because, of course, there was the whole issue that came up where Maddie confronts Rayna and says, "Oh, you don't like him just because he's black!" Even when I read that, just reading the script, I was like, "No, no, no." [Waves finger] And I actually thought, "There's no way that Maddie would even think that about her mother." But, you know, I also think it's interesting, because they have this challenged relationship, so that could be something that Maddie would float out there. We also had some conversations about how she would respond to that, because we had never seen any indication that Rayna would not be okay with that.

Definitely. What do you see the lasting impact of "Nashville" being?

One of the major impacts that our show "Nashville" has had is on the city of Nashville. That city is thriving, and people are coming in every single day. It's really wonderful to see that people are appreciating this town and its music and the great artistry that comes out of it.

Where do you see Rayna by the end of the show?

Honey, I could never even begin to contemplate that. I'll leave it for the writers!

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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